Ukulele open tuning – Once parents and kids have made an informed decision when purchasing a pair of ukuleles, they’re ready to get to work.
Tuning A Ukulele
For a while, parents will be tuning their child’s ukuleles. It’s a good idea if they check ukulele setup tuning before playing each time. New strings will take a while to stretch before holding their tune, and even strings that are broken in are sensitive to temperature changes. One slightly off-pitch string can make someone sound plain awful.
Soon, parents and kids may become accustomed to the intervals between each string. At that point, A strum or two can tell them whether their instrument is in tune with itself or not. When parents play along with their children though, both instruments need to be tuned so the strings play identical notes. Even if the ukuleles sound fine on their own, a train wreck might happen when they’re played together. An electric tuner will make the process fast and accurate. These run anywhere from twenty to forty bucks, and are well worth the investment.
For ukulele open tuning the parents need to get familiar with the name of each string in the ukulele setup. The name of the string is the note it is tuned to. The fattest is the D string. Next is the G. Beside it is the B, and the thinnest is the E.
Kids need to know the strings names even if they aren’t doing the ukulele open tuning. Parents can make this a game by calling out one of the strings to see if their kids can pluck the right one in response. For a tougher challenge in the ukulele setup, parents can ask their children to close their eyes and see if they can guess a string’s name by sound. They certainly shouldn’t forget to let kids quiz them right back. Parents and kids can play these games together until they know the strings backwards and forwards.
If using a tuner for ukulele open tuning, parents should pluck the D string to see what note the electronic tuner says the string is producing. The seven notes are assigned a letter from A to G as they go up in pitch like in “Doe, ray, me. After G, they start over again with another A, as in, “So, la, ti, doe.”
So, if parents are tuning their D string while doing ukulele open tuning, and the tuner says their string is playing a C, their first step is to trace the D string to the right tuning knob, then turn it a tiny bit to see which way makes the note go up in pitch. If they go up just a little, they’ll pass C sharp and then come to D. If they turn too far, they might come to E. In that case, they can turn the tuner back in the other direction, dropping past E flat and hopefully landing on D. Parents can use the tuner to determine if any more adjustments are necessary and repeat this process for the other three strings.
Parents doing ukulele open tuning by ear have a few options. They can fiddle with the tuners until the strings match a note on either a piano, pitch pipe, or computer. Without an electronic tuner, they’ll need to rely on their own sense of pitch to decide when the note is in tune.
Tuning can be frustrating at first. Parents who are struggling might try hitting up a friend or acquaintance who plays guitar for a few pointers.
Holding a Ukulele
Parents and children should both sit in a chair without arms. They should keep their backs straight and their feet firmly planted on the floor for perfect ukulele setup.
Position the ukulele with its curve settled on the right leg. The uke’s neck will point up slightly. The back of the instrument should rest against the stomach.
The right arm should drape over the top of the uke’s body. No need to bare down, a relaxed weight is pressure enough. The right elbow should bend to position the hand for strumming. Fingers should be slightly curled inward so the nails strike the strings. Once they feel comfortable, they can strum with a few downward motions just above the sound hole.
The left hand will make chords by pressing down the strings. The pad of the thumb will press against the back of the ukulele’s neck, while the fingers press the strings against the fret board. There should be a gap between the neck and palm. The uke’s neck won’t rest on any part of the left hand except the thumb for the ukulele setup.
Most importantly, parents and kids need to make sure their backs, arms, hands, and fingers are all relaxed. If parents feel tension building, or notice their child looking uncomfortable, they should take a minute to stretch or wiggle out their muscles and start again from a relaxed position.
Once parents can do the ukulele setup accurately and kids are familiar with the proper way to hold their instrument, they’re ready for the third part of this article: introducing the very first song!
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